Gulf monetary union deal signed


While Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain said they would stick to a 2010 monetary union target, the bloc’s Secretary-General conceded it would take about another six months before they agree on where to base a joint central bank.

After a meeting sidetracked by violence in Gaza, Gulf leaders also called on officials in the top oil-exporting region to work toward stable oil prices and to coordinate efforts to reduce the impact of the global financial crisis. On all matters, however, they outlined no specific policy actions.

When Gulf leaders set a timetable for monetary union in 2001, they had envisioned drawing up the legislation for monetary union by 2005 and issuing single currency notes and coins by 2010. Various policymakers have said it would be virtually impossible to meet that deadline.

Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which also includes Oman, told a news conference after the summit that the 2010 deadline was still intact. “I think it is within the time which has been allocated… 2010,” Abdul-Rahman Al Attiyah said in response to a question about a date for a common currency. “Let’s wait until, God willing, we agree on the location (of the central bank) and the other details,” Attiyah added, saying the decision on the central bank’s location should be finalised by mid-2009.

GCC officials had said earlier this year they expected Gulf leaders to make the final call on the location at this summit. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain are vying to host the bank

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